Prime Minister rejects plans for EU officials to police British ports

Giving his annual State of the Union speech, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker today said on future UK-EU relations, “The United Kingdom will never be an ordinary third country for us. [It] will always be a very close neighbour and partner, in political, economic and security terms.” Juncker added, “In the past months, whenever we needed unity in the Union, Britain was at our side, driven by the same values and principles as all other Europeans.” On the ongoing Brexit negotiations, he said, “We agree with the statement made in Chequers that the starting point for such a [post-Brexit] partnership should be a free trade area between the United Kingdom and the European Union,” adding, “We owe it to our citizens and our businesses to ensure the United Kingdom’s withdrawal is orderly and that there is stability afterwards.”

Meanwhile, Juncker also said, “If you leave the [European] Union, you are of course no longer part of our single market, and certainly not only in the parts of it you choose.” On the question of a border on the island of Ireland, he stressed, “This Parliament and all other 26 Member States will always show loyalty and solidarity with Ireland when it comes to the Irish border. This is why we want to find a creative solution that prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland. But we will equally be very outspoken should the British Government walk away from its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement. It is not the European Union, it is Brexit that risks making the border more visible in Northern Ireland.”

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